2008 election reflectionsWritten by Maggie Thurber | Toledo Free Press Writer | firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. If his efforts on the ground in Toledo were any indication of his Election Day efforts across the nation, he will have his organization and Hillary Clinton to thank for his win.
Having to fight primary battles against Clinton in every state meant he had to build statewide organizations that stayed intact following his nomination. In Toledo, his get-out-the-vote effort (GOTV) was impressive — very similar to President George W. Bush’s efforts in 2004.
In the 10 polling locations I visited, he had volunteers standing at the polls, individuals waiting for the posting of the lists of people who had already voted, people in the neighborhoods going door-to-door contacting people who had not yet voted, and even visitors from other cities (many from Ann Arbor) to help “manage” any lines.
Sen. John McCain did not have anything comparable. While Lucas County’s GOP may be able to boast about its phone bank, it wasn’t nearly as effective as it needed to be. In 2004, the goal for the Bush campaign was to get 40 percent of the vote in Lucas County. McCain got only 33.9 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial totals. Phone banking only does so much, especially when your opponent does it, too. The real challenge is to ensure the voters you’ve called make it to the polls. That follow-through seemed to be missing for McCain in Lucas County.
As for the demographics of Obama’s supporters, it still amazes me that people so anxious to vote for a “man of color” for president held our last “man of color” gubernatorial candidate in such disregard. While I can understand the emotions in electing our first black president, I continue to be confused by the dichotomy of doing so while we strive to look beyond the color of skin and more toward the content of character.
Additionally, I believe the gay marriage bans that passed in several states are a direct result of the Obama GOTV efforts. By relying so strongly upon black voters, who are traditionally (as a group) more conservative on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, the Obama campaign turned out individuals who are less likely to support some of the major components of the Democrat Party platform. This conflict between party members has long been evident, but was rarely seen in election results.
In the long term, it will be hard for the Democrats to show success on their socially liberal platform positions while maintaining the support of black. Eventually, the party will have to decide if it wants to keep the numbers (blacks) or the issue (gay marriage).
Or maybe they’ll just continue ignoring the divergence as they’ve done so far.
From a statewide perspective, voters approved these ballot measures: making it harder for citizens to submit their own ballot issues or challenge laws passed by our legislators in Columbus; agreeing to incur more debt in the guise of “economic development” despite our budgetary issues; and making it impossible for some businesses to remain in — or come to — Ohio. Cashland has already announced it is closing 43 stores and laying off 150 people.
At least voters were consistent in saying no, again, to casinos. I just want the same individuals who opposed these two measures to remember their opposition when complaining about our high numbers of unemployed, the lack of jobs and the state budget.
On a local level, Lucas County voters approved all the countywide levies on the ballot. Despite repeatedly rejecting funding for alcohol and drug addiction in the past, voters didn’t seem to even pause before approving additional funds for what was the mental health board so it could provide such services under their merged agency, the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board. I guess they were right when they told me all they had to do was change the name and voters wouldn’t know the difference.
Children Services Board also got its increase despite millions in reserve and regular claims of running out of money during the next several years, though they never actually come close to their dire predictions.
And, COSI passed.
Supporters were correct when they said people coming out to support Obama could be counted on to say yes to this tax because they don’t think they pay it.
On a positive note, I met many people who’d never volunteered on Election Day. They indicated they plan to stay involved in such civic activities — and that’s a terrific thing for our community.
Former Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber is host of WSPD’s “Eye on Toledo,” weeknights at 6 p.m. She blogs at the Web site Thurber’s Thoughts.